Two key pieces, Joey Tavernese and Lucio Gonzaga, return to Tropics for 2020-21 MASL season

by Brian Ackley

LAKELAND Fla. –  Two key pieces of the Florida Tropics Eastern Conference championship team – Joey Tavernese and Lucio Gonzaga – have signed with the team for the 2020-21 season. Per team and league policies, terms of the agreement were not disclosed. 

“These are two veterans stars who bring so much to the floor. Their skills are matched only by their understanding of the indoor game and how to play it,” Coach Clay Roberts said. “They didn’t always get the headlines, but make no mistake, they were very key members of our conference championship team, and it was important to bring them back to the Tropics family.”

Despite suffering an unusual eye injury midway through last season, Tavernese continued to prove to be one of the best players in the league, ending up with 11 goals in 12 games played. 

Tavernese, who was a second team All MASL pick in 2017-18 with Syracuse, and who has appeared in 135 career pro arena games, has totaled 137 goals and 99 assists. He played in 2018-19 for Utica FC, appearing in  22 games, getting 20 goals and 14 assists.

The 30 year-old Queens, N.Y. native had his best year three seasons ago, with 28 goals and 26 assists in 22 games for the Syracuse Silver Knights. His first three years in the league were with the Rochester, and included his breakout year of 2014-15 when he had 26 goals and added 15 assists for the Rochester Lancers.

Gonzaga joined the Tropics early in the 2019-20 season, which saw Florida go 18-3. The season came to an end in mid-March because of the ongoing pandemic, which also was responsible for the cancellation on the entire post-season. The Tropics were atop the Eastern Conference standings when the season ended, and have been named the official MASL conference champions by the league.

Gonzaga scored 10 goals and added 8 assists in 14 games for the Tropics, bringing his career goal total to 175 for his arena soccer career. Before joining the Tropics, he had an 11-goal season with Utica City.. He also had a very successful stint early in his career with the Baltimore Blast, and  has dressed for the New Jersey Ironmen, Harrisburg Heat and Ontario Fury. His best season came with the Ironmen when he scored 23 goals in 19 games. He also eclipsed the 20 goal mark in 2012-13 with Baltimore, netting 21 goals in 24 games, winning his second title ring with the Blast that season as well. 

Each MASL club is presently working on its own schedule. To qualify for playoffs and be considered regular season play, a team must play a minimum of 12 games and maximum of 24 games. Local and state regulations will be a determining factor in start dates, capacity, and number of games played, according to league officials. 

Teams that are allowed arena capacity, and have dates will have the ability to schedule and fulfill games as allowed. Standings will be based on winning percentage since teams will potentially play an unbalanced number of games. Many other professional leagues are following this same model and further details will be released as they are finalized. 

The Tropics will open their season, and the entire MASL 2020-21 season, on Saturday, Jan. 2 at 5 p.m. when they host the St. Louis Ambush. The two teams will tangle again on Sunday, Jan. 3 at the RP Funding Center in a 3 p.m. start. For more information, visit or call 863-240-0101.